Dear Senators Schumer and McConnell,
I am writing on behalf of the members of the Fraternal Order of Police to respectfully urge the United States Senate to consider H.R. 6943, the “Public Safety Officer Support Act,” on the floor before the August recess.
This legislation, which recognizes that most public safety officer suicides are service-connected, was passed the by the House on 18 May by a lopsided, bipartisan 402-17 vote. On 26 May, the virtually identical Senate companion bill was favorably reported without amendment on a unanimous vote. This legislation is supported by the entire law enforcement community in addition to 20 mental health organizations, including the American Psychological Association, the National Association of State and Mental Health Program Directors, and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
The families of officers who are lost to suicide suffer the same pain and grief as the family of any other officer also lost in the line of duty. This bill addresses what we have known for many years—that long-term exposure to mental stress and traumatic events over the course of service can inflict “invisible injuries” on the men and women in law enforcement, injuries that may be left untreated and have a fatal outcome. The fact is that acute stress disorder or PTSD is just as disabling as a physical injury and an officer who suffers from this or a similar disorder that may result in suicide is just as service-connected as any other line-of-duty death. We believe this legislation shows compassion and support for our officers and their families and that it provides another step towards building support for officers facing mental wellness crises. We urge the Senate to pass it.
On behalf of the more than 364,000 members of the Fraternal Order of Police, we thank you for your leadership on this important issue. If I can provide any additional information about this bill, please do not hesitate to contact me or Executive Director Jim Pasco in our Washington, D.C. office.